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Hearing adjourned for suspects in Warren tobacco store heist

October 2, 2013

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From left, Frank Tansil, attorney Matthew Kolodziejski, Jonathan Whitney Fletcher, attorney Andrea Fanning and Alex Morton appeared for a preliminary hearing before Judge Matthew Sabaugh in the 37th District Court Sept. 26. The hearing was adjourned and rescheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 31. Tansil, Fletcher and Morton stand charged with breaking and entering, receiving and concealing stolen property, and assaulting a police officer.

WARREN — A hearing for three suspects caught during an alleged burglary at a Warren tobacco shop Sept. 13, including two men who were shot by police as they reportedly tried to flee in a stolen van, has been adjourned until Oct. 31.

Accompanied by their attorneys, Frank Tansil, 30, Jonathan Whitney Fletcher, 48, and Alex Morton, 22, all from Detroit, appeared in the 37th District Court Sept. 26 where they stand charged with breaking and entering, receiving and concealing stolen property, and assaulting a police officer. At the agreement of prosecutors and defense counsel, the hearing before Judge Matthew Sabaugh was adjourned to give attorneys time to review video evidence.

Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said previously that patrol officers responded to a 911 call and a burglar alarm at the store near Nine Mile Road and Van Dyke at 6:02 a.m. Sept. 13. He said responding officers parked their vehicles around the suspects’ van, which allegedly had been reported stolen in Livonia.

The men allegedly tried to flee in the van as police arrived. Green said an officer was nearly struck when the van rolled over the sidewalk and pinned him between a police car and the wall of the business. Two officers fired shots, striking Tansil and Fletcher, who were seated in the front of the vehicle.

Defense attorney Matthew Kolodziejski said his client, Tansil, suffered two broken arms as a result of gunshot wounds.

Fletcher suffered lesser wounds and was treated at the hospital and released into the custody of the Macomb County Jail, where his defense attorney, Andrea Fanning, told the court he hadn’t been receiving adequate care for pre-existing medical issues, including ulcers.

Kolodziejski, Fanning and Morton’s defense attorney, Gerald Ferry, declined to discuss the specifics of the case before they had a chance to review of the evidence.

Both Ferry and Fanning unsuccessfully petitioned the judge to lower the $50,000 bonds for their clients. The men remained held in the Macomb County Jail.

Tansil also remained jailed on a $250,000 cash bond.

“The people would reject to any reduction in bond,” Assistant Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Anthony Servitto said. “I think they’re a threat to the general public’s safety.”

Warren Police Detective Sgt. Stephen Mills said previously that investigators recovered several bags containing cartons of cigarettes from the van at the scene.

Police in other communities were reportedly investigating whether the men were responsible for other recent burglaries at tobacco shops.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 31 in Sabaugh’s courtroom at the 37th District Court.

About the author

Staff Writer Brian Louwers covers the cities of Warren and Center Line. He has worked for C & G Newspapers since 1998 and is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. In his free time, he participates in the Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program and conducts interviews with military veterans for the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

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